Viktoriia's essay on life at a British boarding school was shortlisted in this year's HMC essay competition.

Taking the plunge: Life in a British boarding school

I remember my first day in this school. It was a rainy day, everyone was a stranger, and I was so unfamiliar with the place I was supposed to live in for 2 next years. On this day, I asked strangers to tell me where I could find my lesson. By the way, all these strangers were so amiable and helpful, despite my distracting them. I did not feel like I was in a country other than Ukraine, but I felt like I had travelled to another planet!

However, only my first weeks were that difficult. With time, I started to remember where all of my classes were and was tuned in to work. I began to discover my school and all the facilities I could access and became fascinated by the content of our school library! Everything is there. I remember the library in my rural school: it was so easy for me to read all the books(even dictionaries) there when I was younger. But here, it can take forever, and I have 10 books to read at the moment, and I cannot stop taking out new books.

Apart from attending the lessons, I enjoy participating in different clubs and societies. I remember how difficult it was to organise and participate in any kind of society in my Ukrainian school, and now I am taking advantage of the opportunities the school gives me. Reading club, Maths club, Poetry club, Aldiss academic society, Economic society and International society fill my weeks. I will probably expand this list when my mocks will be done.

With various clubs in my school, I understood that I always lacked a poetry club. For poets, spending time with like-minded people and sharing their writing is extremely important. So now I have a club and do activities with budding local poets. I am glad I have an opportunity to contribute to the school community and implement my little dream.

I expected that it would be delightful for me to study here. Instead of studying 16 subjects, as in Ukraine, I can now do 4 of my favourite ones. It was a dream before as well. Two hours of Maths a day plus hours spent after lessons – what can be better for someone (me) who is passionate about Maths? The answer is taking Physics and Economics, which contain lots of Maths, helping our teachers organise Maths masterclasses, writing an EPQ about prime numbers, attending a Maths club and consulting with Maths teachers during lunch-times.

This year, I started to do economics for the first time. I knew nothing about the subject before, but now consider it a future career. It is thanks to my teachers, who are doing their best at teaching and coordinating us. It impresses me more and more every day how much commitment the teachers here have. I also saw a different side of physics – the exciting and practical one.

Although I did really plunge into my academic life, I am enjoying being a part of a boarding community as well. The winter ball was just like the one from the movies. Overall, I am constantly feeling like I am living in a movie. I also enjoy visiting English towns and cities and walking down beautiful streets with old buildings with my friends. England is fabulous!

The school now helped me to understand what multiculturalism is. It is helping me to work out how to deal with challenges. It is making me more intelligent and mature every single day. Although sometimes it is too hard to cope with all the work, as the studying is intense, I am enjoying having all this work. After 3 terms in a British independent school, I can say one thing: it is actually not a piece of cake, but it is definitely my cup of tea!

I certify that the information given is true and it is entirely my work.  Written by Viktoriia M, Year 12.